Heartbreak and Betrayal: How to Concurrently Overcome a Breakup of Romance and Country

By Isabelle Duffy


It was 7:30 am and my flight from SFO to Portland had been canceled. Because I am constantly neurotic about being late for flights, I showed up two hours before my original take off time- 9:30 am. The next available flight, unfortunately, was at 2:30 pm which gave me about 7 hours to kill in an airport. Luckily, I had a few things that I brought along just in case I got bored. A notebook, some nail polish and Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance”.

I pulled out Modern Romance and began to read. But quickly, due to my millennial instincts, I got bored. By now I had read my book, painted my nails and wrote a small amount in my journal about how bored I was. I had used up all of my resources in under 2 hours, and still had 5 hours left stuck in this airport. How the hell should I spend my time?

Well, there’s always the classic: checking your ex’s social media to see how they’re doing.

I know – all blogs, friends, and strangers say to avoid that like the plague, but of course, we all do it anyway. I won’t go into too much detail about the breakup itself, but all I will say is that it was fairly recent and that I’m still grieving almost every day. Granted, I had been holding onto a lot of grief for years about many other deep-seated things and this breakup definitely acted as the catalyst. The floodgates opened and everything that I had never properly grieved nor processed came to light. It’s chaos. But hey I’m fucking 24 and sometimes shit doesn’t make sense. And honestly, I’m pretty good about doing a social media cleanse when it comes down to it.

But I gave in.  And as soon as I started to type in the URL to his twitter, I could feel my heartbeat quicken. I knew it was bad for me, but that’s almost what made it feel like a good idea. Forbidden fruit. I told myself, “I’ve been good about avoiding his social media! Haven’t checked in once! I deserve this! It’s fiiiiiine”

The thing is- it’ll never be fine. No matter what, you’re always going to find something that’s going to make your stomach churn. Something that’ll make you sad, make you feel twice as lonely as you did before. Nothing that your ex posts will ever make you feel good simply put: they’re living their life without you. And that alone is painful enough.  But the sick masochistic desire for satisfaction is something that lives in us all.

Moral of the story is – and I can’t reiterate this enough – social media is an unforgiving bitch.

So I start scrolling. It’s relatively mundane, a few things that make me uncomfortable, a few things that make me sad. But finally, I came across something that made my heart drop into my stomach. Multiple posts, dated almost directly after our breakup, about being “Finally happy again” and “eyes have been opened” and “Able to do the things I always wanted to do, finally feel appreciated”.

The overall theme of the posts being: free of me, proudly and publicly so. As if I had been this toxic succubus that had been dragging him down into hell for the entirety of our relationship and that he had never been happy from the beginning.


So, I did what any adult-tax-paying-proud-feminist-woman would do.

I cried. A lot.

I asked the kind Asian family sitting across from me to watch my stuff and I ran to the bathroom and wept. Loud, heavy, ugly sobs wracking my body as I sat in the bathroom stall, completely unable to pull myself together. I frantically started texting my friends, hardly able to see through my own tears. They, with all their might, tried to pull me out of my spiral. Telling me things like even if I’m not important to him, that I’m important to them. That I matter and that they love me more than anything and that I can always rely on them to be there for me.

Anyone who knows me knows I say this at least twice a day – women are amazing.

Despite their efforts (and they did help), there was still a part of me that couldn’t fight the sinking feeling of smallness. The feeling of unimportance and so silly for grieving, to begin with.

I had never felt more lonely than sitting in that San Francisco airport public restroom, sobbing over my ex-boyfriend’s tweets.

Now I understand, not everyone grieves as publicly as I do. The only way I can process grief is by filling myself up with the sense of solidarity which is why this was so awful. I was openly and honestly sad on my platforms. But a part of me wanted some sort of validation that I meant something, that we meant something. That maybe he was aching too.

Instead, I came across his pride paired with gloating due to the absence of me.

Again. Ouch.

Honestly- Fuck social media. It’s always a bad idea and you’re never going to find what you want.

After a good solid 15 minutes of crying, I wiped the tears from my eyes and looked in the mirror at the SFO bathroom. I saw my puffy cheeks and red eyes and decided this is enough. If he can proudly be rid of me then I can do the same. I walk out, head held as highly as you possibly can after sobbing publicly and loudly in an airport restroom stall, and thanked the family watching my luggage. I decided to try and keep my mind busy for a while.

So what could I do to fix this? Maybe watch a comfort show? Take a nap? Call a friend?

Yeah, those are all pretty solid ideas. But instead, I decided to follow it up with something that I personally feel compliments misery better than anything – more misery.

By that point, it was 12 pm, and I decided to pull up the inauguration of Trump on my phone. The same shaking feeling, knowing that what I was about to expose myself to was going to cause some sort of inevitable pain, crept in on me. My heart began to race all over again as I fought the same craving of validation.

Maybe it’ll all be a joke? I thought, Maybe it’s just some big art experiment and we were all unwitting subjects. This can’t be it, there has to be a happy ending. I do matter, right?

No such luck.

As I watched him speak, in all his tiny-handed Cheeto-dusted glory, I was struck with disbelief and shock. There was something about hearing my country cheer on this monster, that almost felt violent. I felt a chill run through my spine and felt like I was watching everything from outside of my body. I was numb.

In all honesty, I had been living in denial about this presidency. Similar to the breakup, it was always nagging at me in the back of my head while I attempted to stay busy, to move forward. Like a voice constantly whispering “Hey, remember how you should be sad right now? Everything in the world is absolute shit.” But I kept moving forward, kept pushing past the negative thoughts, refusing to let them permeate.

It wasn’t until the Obamas flew away that it really hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt abandoned and truly and honestly fearful. That same feeling of unimportance washed over me again, that feeling of something you love telling you that you don’t matter. But this time it wasn’t just me. Trump was publicly and proudly saying that not only did he not care about me, but my family who are exclusively immigrants. My sisters and my brothers who are made up of a beautiful mixture of POCs and queer folk and everything in between. My community, the only thing that has gotten me out of bed in the mornings, the people that have lifted me up every time I’ve started to sink. Belittled. Knocked down. Torn apart.

And I watched my country, my home, the place where my parents decided they wanted to raise their children, happily cheer along with him.

It’s that same feeling of betrayal. It’s that feeling of heartbreak.

To have something I thought would always care about me, whether a person or a country, proudly shouting from the rooftops about how excited they are to no longer care. How exhausting it was to care and how finally, after all this time, they are free. I got the same sense of feeling silly, feeling as though I had been living a lie. I realized that I used small justices as ways to convince myself that the world maybe wasn’t falling apart. That perhaps, it was all in my head. But I had known. I had always known that this country only benefited straight cis white men, but I had prayed and hoped that there had been some semblance of change, however minuscule.

I had done all the right things. I voted I protested, I educated myself. I got into deep political conversations with whoever would have them with me and always left feeling empowered and strong. But that’s the thing with feeling empowered that I’m fed up with. I want to be empowered. I want women to own land, I want POC’s to have a higher position in society, I want queer folk to be respected. Why should I be grateful for a feeling, while white men are actually empowered? Because the feeling wasn’t enough anymore, and it never had been when I really think about it.

Because for men, especially white men, no matter how Cheeto-dusted their skin, empowerment is a birthright. They get to say and do whatever they like and we offer nothing but forgiveness and understanding. It’s constant unpaid emotional labor on our ends. Whether it’s for those in our personal life, or politicians and celebrities.  

I felt hopeless. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt as if my trust had been broken and I had once again poured my energy and sense of self into something that had ultimately failed me. As if I had lost a part of myself all over again.

Unfortunately, this adult-tax-paying-proud-feminist-woman™ did not spare the kind Asian family across from her the tears this time. I silently let them fall openly as the feelings of devastation and worthlessness washed over my entirety, my tears splashing onto my phone. I could feel the air get sucked out of the room as everyone in the airport watched along. We were all broken hearted in that moment.

Heartbreak is horrible. It’s deafening and all consuming. A dark cloud that just looms over you, no matter how much you work out, how much you drink, how much you cry. It leaves an almost cookie cutter shaped hole in your heart that can’t be filled by anything but the perpetrator that created it. It feels as if it’s going to last for the rest of your life, despite everyone telling you there’s an end date. But they’re right- it one day will end. They do their damage and then they leave. And you won’t be back to normal, you’ll just be different. You’re breaking up not only with a person, with an idea, with a country, but with a version of yourself. The version of myself that felt happy and whole when connected to that other person is gone forever now. The version of myself that was satisfied and empowered with conversations and political discourse has completely dissipated. It’s hard as hell to figure out what is going to bring back even a semblance of those feelings. But it’s completely worth the journey.

Until then, you find your people. You reach out to your community and you don’t let yourself nor others sink. We need to lift each other up at this time but give space for grief, it’s natural and needed. Because this is a universal heartache and pretending as if we’re better than ever is living in a dream world. I’m far from ok, but I’m working towards it. And I hope one day, I can look in the mirror and realize that my wounds haven’t just healed, but that without my scars I am unrecognizable.


Bay Area Women’s March

Yesterday Sabrina and I participated in the Women’s March in both Oakland and in San Francisco.  It was so many things. It was powerful, beautiful, lovely, happy, symbolic and just an incredible thing to be a part of. There were so many aspects that stood out to me. The sheer amount of participants was mind blowing. The ages were as well, so many babies as well as people over 80. It was beautiful to see the diversity of ages in addition to just the general diversity. Age, race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity. It was overwhelmingly beautiful and just so positive. So many happy and hopeful people.


Because of all the diversity, and because of all the different things to protest, there was such a remarkable diversity in the signs. So many people were protesting and it wasn’t all strictly female related, as I’m sure you noticed if you attended a march. There of course were signs about women’s rights and reproductive rights, but there were also signs about Black Lives, Transgendered lives, people dissing Trump in hilariously thoughtful ways, people demanding free water, health care, affordable education, fighting for immigrant rights, and so much more as you’ll see in our photo gallery below. The amount of creativity is kind of overwhelming. I was so impressed by how many original signs we saw both in Oakland and in San Francisco.

It’s truly wonderful to know that so many people across the country feel the way we feel and we can come together to recognize that our civil rights matter and need to be a priority. So many people are negatively affected by this new president and his policies. We cannot and will not sit quietly and allow this to happen. Which is why it is crucial to note that this march is only the beginning. Saturday was just step one. If you participated in the March on Saturday THANK YOU!

Here’s what we need to focus on next. The first 100 days. The Women’s March website has the steps planned out for you to follow. Step one is to write postcards to your senators about what matters most to you and how you’re going to continue to fight. Please visit their website to learn more. We cannot let the march just be a one-time thing.

We cannot stop fighting.


A Week in the Life of a Grad Student

Monday January 9th, 2017

7:46am I definitely had light nightmares last night because David (bf) and I watched The Blair Watch. I guess that’s a good reason to wake up early and try and get stuff done.


12:40 pm Quick Starbucks stop before class. Saw this dude in a hilarious jacket.

12:55 We drove to school and have to make a quick decision of parking at the farther away lot, but one that would definitely have spots, or go to the closer lot that is usually super full at this time. When we drove past the spot counter on the outside said FULL FULL which we’ve both never seen, but we went in any way. Like an act of god, someone pulled out of the first available spot and we literally got the best spot in the lot! Highest risk, Highest reward.

vagina-doodles2:21 Spent a lot of time in class drawing vaginas out of boredom (it’s the first day of class so not much happens besides talking about the syllabus .)

7:33 We went to the bar on campus after class thinking it would be a chill place to relax but it was FULL of 21-year-old bros who had nothing else to do but drink their life way at the bar conveniently located next to their dorm.


1 pm I seriously have the best job. I babysit four of the coolest kids. They’re all between the ages of 3 and 7, which for most people might seem like a handful, but they’re so sweet and smart and nice and hilarious kids that it’s such a breeze. Before I pick up the kids from school I usually organize and pick up their house which is awesome because I just throw on a podcast or an audiobook.

7:15 Every time I make dinner for these kids I always recreate it for myself at home. Tonight I made them these delicious kale chips, and then immediately headed to whole foods to buy some kale and make some on my own.

9:10 Kale chips were bomb AF. I wish I took a picture.


9:45 am My mom sent me the missing part to the espresso machine they refitted me so now I don’t have to blow all my money on lattes and espresso. I can just make them at home which is KEY! I definitely remember how to make lattes from my barista days, but I’m mostly in it for the convenient and constant espresso.


11 Met my friend on campus to location scout for his thesis this weekend. It’s a cool room and should be super easy to set up.

2:20 pm headed back home to make another espresso. I also thought the class I TA started at 3:10, but it actually starts at 4:10, so I have way more time to relax before going back to school.

6:05 While all the students are finishing up Sunset Blvd the TA’s and the Professor just kicked it outside of the classroom talking about undergrad and movies we like.  Since we’ve all He’s a great professor and teaching this class is gonna be a lot of fun!

8:50 Got out of my comedy pilot class mad early. Another great teacher. I think this semester is gonna be pretty dope.


9:35 am I woke up kinda early to finish the second half of this movie I’ve been putting off for a few days. For the class I TA there’s a good number of movies on it that I haven’t seen so I’m trying to watch them all before the students watch them so I seem like more of an expert than I am.

1:05 pm I had to stop off at Home Depot before I went to work because the family needs some extra tarps.

6:00 These kids are on a Cindi Lauper binge. I think I’ve listened to She Bop with them more than I have in my entire life. But it’s pretty adorable how well they know it by heart.

10 After packing up all the props I have to bring to set tomorrow the director texted me saying three pretty important props, a grill, gold chain and a gold watch, hadn’t come in the mail yet.  At 10 at night, those things are pretty hard to get. Even harder is they’re needed for the first shot of the day. I found a few props around my apartment that might be able to surface, a chicken and waffles snap back, a watch and a goldish chain because all we really need is for the character to look obnoxiously black.


7:01 Got my coffee and got to set. Our call time was 7 am and most of the people are already here.

9:12 I found out I’m gonna be an extra in one of the first scenes. I just have one line and otherwise, I just have to look obnoxiously black and take selfies. Easy. I just got my make up done which was cool!selfie

5:35 We finished with set really early which was awesome! I thought we might have to stay until 7, but everyone is really professional and cool so we got our shit done early. I didn’t even have much to do as PD today. Tomorrow will be more, but this was a good first day.

7:10 Since it’s Friday the 13th, David and I decided to watch scary movies. He couldn’t find Halloween on his hard drive so I suggested we watch A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. He’s in!

9:01 My god that movie was so good! Beautifully shot. Awesome music. Just all around great and fun. It definitely was light on the horror and scares, though. It was more of a romance with a vampire-y subplot. So since it’s early, we’re gonna watch It Follows.

11:26 Holy fucking shit! That movie was definitely scary. It’s essentially a story about STD’s. A girl get’s a sexually transmitted disease where people follow you and kill you until you pass the “disease” on to someone else. It’s fucking terrifying and crazy.


11:27 We turned on Jackass because that shit was so scary!


8:10 Set day two! We’re shooting on campus which is great, it’s close by to our apartment which is great, but I thought we were shooting at a different building so I was a little late getting to set.

8:50 I have to run home to get DVD’s because the director forgot them. Thank god I live close.


2:10 Shooting is going really well so far. I helped design a production office which was fun. Some of the PA’s helped out too and made it look really good. The actors are all super funny, it’s blast to watch.

6:15 We got out early again!! This is great, what a dope crew!

8:10 For one of our classes we have to create a comedy tv show which is awesome and I’m super excited about mine. David has the same class, but his homework is due today so I’m helping him workshop some ideas and characters so he has a better document.

11:55 We’re literally down to the wire, but we’re pretty much done. It’s crazy to me how helpful you can be with coming up with ideas when it’s not your script. I have no ties to this so I’m just suggesting whatever and seeing what he likes. Honestly, though it’s a pretty fun script and I think it’ll be fun for him to write.


6:30 am Yeah I know I’m up dumb early. I read this blog where this girl was explaining her tips on getting up earlier and one of them was don’t touch the snooze. Just get up and start your day. So I thought I’d try that today.

7:06 I like to plan out all the tweets on Sunday so I went to Starbucks and just looked at cool articles online and saved some pictures. It was honestly pretty nice. The Starbucks was mad empty and I love going outside first thing so it was great!

8:00 Got to set super on time today! I was having a bit of anxiety about how we’re gonna stage one of the sets so I wanted to get there with enough time to figure it out if something goes wrong.

8:40 So essentially we were trying to figure out a way to block the LMU letters in this office. We put up an easel and out a photo on the easel, but it looked kind of weird. Then, because we’re all so scared of defacing school property and didn’t try this first, we realized we could just take off the letters and it was fine. I dressed up the area wit hone of the PA’s to make it look fuller and it turned out pretty well.

set-lyfe4:50 pm We’re on the last sequence right now. I think we could be done in the next hour or so which is solid. It’s been a super fun set and I’ve totally learned a lot. The crew is awesome and really fun to work with. It’s a cool mix of LMU students and other people. I think the smartest part about this set is that it’s small. There aren’t a lot of unnecessary people hanging around. I’m definitely ready to go home and hang out/finish the homework assignments I have. I’m sure most people here are feeling similarly.

Welp. That’s pretty much it. A kind of regular week in the life of a grad student. Thankfully it was the first week of the semester so it wasn’t heavy on the homework. We’ll check back in half way through the semester.


Three things I love about being home in Oakland for the holidays.

School starts tomorrow, so it’s the last time I can reflect about being home for the holidays and it still be relevant. It’s so much different as an adult in grad school going home for the holidays. My bedroom is no longer mine. It’s honestly barely a bedroom. It’s full of boxes my sister and I dumped on my parents after we both moved out. I don’t come home for as long as I used to and I often bring my boyfriend along with me. As different as it is though, there are a few reliable staples about going home that I’ll forever appreciate.


I’m so fucking lucky when it comes to food. My dad makes incredible food all the time, just because he loves to cook. He’ll make full on meals because he got a new appliance, or a dessert because he saw a version of it on Food Network and wants to try it out.

dad-foodMy two younger siblings don’t always appreciate it, or eat it so I always have a lot of leftovers to choose from. Also, because I’m home, my parents are more inclined to add my favorite foods to their shopping menus which allows me to take photos of my most instagramable foods cause their kitchen has beautiful natural light.


But in all seriousness it’s one of the best parts about being home. I love being the taste tester for my dad and since my friends all work at high end restaurants, I also get to try a fair amount of the food from their restaurants. They work at restaurants I can’t afford of a student/nanny budget, but because they’re amazing they always seem to slip an extra bowl of patatas bravas, glass of Red or tray of salumi my way. And don’t even get me started on their food connections. I didn’t even realize the food industry was so close knit until I went out to restaurants with my food industry friends. I’ve tried so many random foods while eating out with them just because they gave a chef a free drink at their restaurant once and they want to return the favor with a rare fish or gourmet pizza. I will gladly ride the coattails of my friends’ food industry perks until we all get dope ass jobs where we be like Harry Potter on his first ride in the Hogwarts express and casually say “we’ll take the lot!”


Although we celebrate Christmas, my family also celebrates Kwanzaa. And I think we do it in the most special way. For those who don’t know, Kwanzaa was invented 50 years ago as a celebration of African American culture. It’s not religious, but has some similarities to Christmas or Hanukah where there is a candle holder that is lit every day, family and friends join to celebrate, there’s tons of food and the occasional present. For over ten years we’ve been celebrating Kwanzaa with my neighbors and it’s an absolute delight. We go to different houses each night, casually discuss the night’s principles, recognize and pay respects to certain people and then eat. Kwanzaa is such a slept on holiday that deserves more recognition. With no religious affiliations or gift giving requirements, it’s just an excuse to talk about how dope it is to be black with your black friends and family. How cool!? I’m incredibly thankful that we’ve kept this tradition going for so long.

The New Parkway Theater

I cannot rave about this Oakland gem enough. Every single time the lights dim and their personalized pre-credits begin to roll while I’m munching on buttery popcorn and working on my pitcher of local beer, I get this incredibly warm feeling in my stomach. There’s no other way to describe this place other than wonderful.the-new-parkway

Whenever I’m home I always make an effort to go see as many movies as I can there. The staff are some of the friendliest people I’ve come across working at a theater. It’s the kind of theater that makes you feel so at home and it helps that the seats are all couches and love seats. You can order burgers, salads, paninis that are brought straight to your seat. The movie selection is always on point. They have a great combination of independent films, big budget movies and cult classics and they host the occasional film festival whether it be shorts or animated. It really is a gem of a theater and I have yet to find one that matches it’s quality. Honestly The New Parkway Theater probably deserves an entire post, but it truly is one of my favorite parts about being home in Oakland.